Matt Hancock promises Britain will help police world for new killer Covid mutations
BRITAIN will help police the globe for new killer Covid mutations, Matt Hancock will promise.
UK scientific expertise in spotting emerging coronavirus variants will be offered to developing nations to halt future outbreaks from taking hold.
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Officials claim it will provide a “crucial early warning” sign of any new Covid strains that might endanger Britain and the world.
Samples sent in from abroad will be analyses for increased contagiousness, deadliness or vaccine escape.
And Public Health England teams will even visit countries to carry out gene sequencing, if there is no lab capacity.
Ministers hope the vital work will help keep the world remain one step ahead of any mutations.
The offer of international aid will be made by the Health Secretary today as part of a Chatham House speech.
Mr Hancock will say: “When one of us suffers, we all suffer.
“This pandemic has shown that the foundations of so many of the exciting experiences that make life worth living are contingent not just on our health, or the health of our neighbours, but the health of people we’ve never met.
“So we must work to promote health security in every single part of the world… so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead”.
More than half of all Covid genome sequencing has been carried out in the UK.
Dr Isabel Oliver, Director of PHE’s National Infection Service, said: “We know that the virus will evolve over time and certain mutations could potentially cause the virus to spread faster, make people sicker, or possibly affect how well vaccines work.
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“Genomic testing is crucial to our efforts to control the virus – it allows us to keep an eye on how the virus is changing and to respond before it’s too late.
“This new initiative will bring Public Health England’s cutting edge science to countries that have little or no ability to sequence and analyse COVID-19 virus strains themselves.
“It will also give us crucial early warning of new variants emerging around the world that might endanger the UK.”
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